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Yes, you can drive someone else's car without having your own insurance policy. In this case, the car owner's insurance policy usually comes into play. As long as you have the owner's permission to drive, their insurance should cover you. It's like the car carries its protection no matter who is driving.

However, if the car owner doesn't have insurance or if their policy doesn't extend to other drivers, you could be at risk. And if you regularly borrow a car, you may need non-owner car insurance.

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Key Takeaways

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If you have permission from the owner and you're not an excluded driver, you can drive someone else's car without having your own insurance. Your coverage will usually match the policyholder's.

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As long as the insurance of the car you're driving meets the state's minimum car insurance requirements, you'll be driving legally, even if you don't have your own policy.

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If you often borrow the same car, consider being added to the owner's policy or sign up for non-owner car insurance.

Can You Drive Someone’s Car Without Insurance?

Yes, you can drive someone else's car without having your own insurance policy, but there's more to it than that simple answer. When you slide into the driver's seat of another person's vehicle, the car owner's insurance policy typically provides coverage. The car carries protection, ensuring that there's a safety net in place no matter who is driving. If an accident occurs while you're at the wheel, the owner's policy should take care of the damages, all subject to its terms and conditions.

But what if you have your own car insurance policy? In that case, it might come into play as secondary coverage if the car owner's policy doesn't fully cover an accident or damage. It's like having a backup plan, ready to step in if needed.

Another thing to keep in mind is permissive use clauses. These generally allow permissive drivers to borrow the car only once a month. If you're identified as a frequent borrower and you're not listed on the owner's policy, the insurance company could deny the claim. That could leave the car owner with the responsibility of covering the bill.

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Permissive use in car insurance refers to a situation where you're allowed to drive someone else's car, even if your name isn't on their policy. Imagine a friend lets you borrow their car for the day; that's permissive use in action. Even though your name isn't on their policy, their insurance still covers the car while you're driving. The car's protection stays with it, ensuring that you, as the driver, are covered under your friend's policy. It's a handy feature that allows people to drive with a safety net, even when behind the wheel of someone else's vehicle.

Is It Legal to Drive Someone Else’s Car?

Yes, it's legal to drive someone else's car if you don't have your own coverage. If the car owner has insurance and lets you drive, you'll be covered, too.

Every state has minimum car insurance requirements. If the owner's policy follows these rules, you'll have the legal coverage needed. It's as if the car's insurance is there for you, making sure you meet the state's rules.

However, you still have legal duties as the driver. If you get a ticket while driving someone else's car, it goes on your record, not the owner's.

What Happens If You Drive Someone Else’s Car Without Insurance?

If you have the car owner's permission to drive and they have an active insurance policy, you will effectively be driving insured. This means that if an accident occurs while you're at the wheel, the owner's policy should take care of the damages, all subject to the terms and conditions of that policy.


Liability Coverage

If you're at fault in the accident, the car owner's liability coverage should cover the damages to the other party's vehicle and any medical expenses if there are injuries.

Example: You borrow your friend's car and accidentally rear-end another vehicle at a stoplight. You're at fault, so the car owner's liability coverage would kick in.


Your Own Insurance

If you have your own car insurance policy, it might act as secondary coverage if the car owner's policy doesn't fully cover the accident or damage.

Example: Continuing from the above scenario, if the damages exceed the car owner's policy limits, your own car insurance policy might cover the remaining costs of the damage.


Collision Coverage

If the car owner has collision coverage, it may cover the damages to the car you were driving, regardless of who was at fault.

Example: While driving your neighbor's car, you hit a slippery patch of road and slide into a guardrail. Whether it was your fault or not, the car owner's collision coverage would cover the damages to the car you were driving.


Comprehensive Coverage

If there's damage to the car from something other than a collision, like theft or vandalism, while in your possession, the owner's comprehensive coverage may apply.

Example: You're using your sibling's car for the weekend. During the night, someone breaks a car window and steals the stereo. Since this damage is from theft, not a collision, the car owner's comprehensive coverage would apply to repair the window and replace the stereo.

Insurance premiums are often affected by the policyholder's claim history. If a claim is made because of an accident you caused while driving their car, it's recorded on the owner's insurance history, not yours. Because of this, the owner may experience an increase in premiums, making their car insurance costs go up, even though you were the one driving at the time of the accident.

Does My Insurance Cover Me to Drive Another Car?

When you drive someone else's car, the car owner's insurance typically provides coverage, not your own. The car owner's policy should include liability, collision and comprehensive coverage that applies to permissive drivers like you who have the owner's permission to drive the car.

Can You Be on Someone Else’s Car Insurance?

It may be wise if the car owner adds you to their car insurance policy as a listed driver if you frequently borrow the same car. Regular borrowing without being listed might lead to complications with the insurance company, especially if an accident occurs.

Being added to the car insurance owner’s policy removes any ambiguity about whether you were driving with the owner's permission. If the owner needs to file a claim because of an accident you caused, the insurance company can't argue that you're not a listed driver and use that as a reason to deny coverage.

Also, it's worth noting that permissive use generally only allows a driver to borrow the policyholder's car 12 times a year at most. If you plan to drive the car more frequently, being listed on the policy becomes even more essential to ensure proper coverage and to avoid potential issues with the insurance provider.

Can I Get Insurance to Drive Someone Else’s Car?

Yes, you can get insurance to drive someone else's car. This is an especially savvy move if you:

  • Frequently borrow cars
  • Regularly rent cars
  • Usually borrow the same cars

To get insured when driving a borrowed car, you can drive as a permissive driver, ask to be added to the car owner’s policy or buy non-owner car insurance. The best option depends on how frequently you borrow cars.

Ways to Get Coverage When Borrowing Someone Else’s Car
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    Driving with the owner's permission

    Most car insurance policies will cover a driver with the owner's permission to use the vehicle. This is often referred to as "permissive use." However, this might be limited to a certain number of times per year (e.g., 12 times), and the coverage might not be as extensive as if you were a listed driver on the policy. And depending on the owner’s policy, you may not have the same level of coverage as the policyholder.

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    Being added to the owner’s policy

    If you regularly borrow the same car, the best approach is to be added as a listed driver on the owner's policy. This ensures that the insurance company recognizes you as an authorized driver and removes any ambiguity about coverage. As a listed driver, you will have the same coverage as the policyholder.

    Car insurance companies often require policyholders to add household members or potential drivers to the policy. If you live with the car owner, ask if you’re already included in the policy.

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    Non-owner car insurance

    If you frequently borrow or rent cars but don't own one yourself, you might consider purchasing a non-owner car insurance policy. This type of policy provides liability coverage when you're driving a car you don't own and can be a smart option if you're often behind the wheel of borrowed or rented vehicles.

You can drive a borrowed car without your own insurance if you have the owner's permission, are not an excluded driver and don't drive the same car more than 12 times a year. However, if you find yourself behind the wheel more often, you may need to be added to the policy or consider getting non-owner car insurance to ensure proper coverage.

Though limited to liability-only coverage, non-owner insurance is a savvy way to get more robust protection, especially if you frequently drive various cars, whether renting for a trip or borrowing your roommate's car for the day.

Personal Auto Insurance
Coverage as a Permissive Driver
Non-Owner Car Insurance

Coverage for Borrowed Vehicle

Depends on policy

Yes, with owner's permission


Liability Coverage


Yes (under owner's policy)


Collision Coverage


Depends on owner's policy


Comprehensive Coverage


Depends on owner's policy


Medical Payments/PIP


Depends on owner's policy


Rental Car Coverage




Frequent Borrowing Allowed

Limited to 12 times per year


Premium Impact on Owner

Yes, after a claim


Unlike personal auto insurance, non-owner car insurance follows the driver, not the car. If you have this coverage and drive a borrowed car with insurance, the car owner's policy usually pays first. Non-owner insurance acts as secondary coverage, stepping in only if the car owner's primary coverage doesn't cover all damages.

Imagine borrowing a friend's car and causing an accident. Your friend's insurance will take care of the costs first, up to the policy limits. If those limits are reached, your non-owner car insurance can then cover the remaining costs, up to your policy's limits.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you frequently drive someone else’s car without your own insurance policy, MoneyGeek tackles some common questions to guide you.

About Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark Fitzpatrick headshot

Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content director at MoneyGeek with over five years of experience analyzing the insurance market, conducting original research and creating content that can be personalized for every buyer. He has been quoted on insurance topics in several publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Mark earned a master’s degree in Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his economics and insurance knowledge to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.